Following an extensive review of the scientific literature, the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), concluded that breast cancer survivors can safely consume soyfoods. The AICR position concurs with that of another leading cancer organization, the American Cancer Society (ACS), which issued their position statement earlier this year.
The AICR evaluation, which is available online, emphasized findings from a combined analysis of three studies, two from the United States and one from China, which involved nearly 10,000 breast cancer survivors. Over the more than 7 years the women were followed, higher soyfood consumption was linked to a 25 percent reduction in tumor recurrence. The AICR also noted the weaknesses and limitations of animal studies, which have been the basis of more than decade-old soy controversy. According to AICR Nutrition Advisor Karen Collins, MS, RD, an expert on diet and cancer prevention who worked with the AICR to examine the research and develop the materials, “Determining whether it is safe for breast cancer survivors to eat soy has been one of the big research questions under study and now we know it is safe — the evidence is so consistent.”
Ms. Collins also noted that “… for breast cancer survivors who want to eat less meat, get protein and enjoy a more plant-based diet, soy is a healthy food and everyone—including breast cancer survivors—can feel comfortable eating it.”
In a related development, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force concluded that the use of estrogen alone results in a small reduction in the risk for developing or dying of invasive breast cancer. This conclusion is notable because the controversy over soyfoods has focused on their phytoestrogen—or plant estrogen—content. Soy phytoestrogens are different from the hormone estrogen, although the two do share some properties in common. If the US Preventive Services Task concludes that estrogen doesn’t cause breast cancer, it’s not surprising the AICR and the ACS reached the conclusions they did about the safety of soyfoods.
Moyers et al. Ann Intern Med. 2013;158.
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is one of the nation’s largest cancer charities, focusing exclusively on the link between diet and cancer. The Institute provides a wide range of consumer education programs that help Americans learn to make dietary changes to lower cancer risk. AICR also supports innovative research in cancer prevention and treatment at universities, hospitals and research centers across the U.S. The Institute has provided millions of dollars in funding for research in diet, nutrition and cancer.